The Romantic Era & William Wordsworth's "We Are Seven"
William Wordsworth’s poem, We are Seven, is about a person talking to a young girl about her and her six siblings. Throughout the poem, the narrator gave the young girl a very difficult time when she persisted that simply because not all seven children were home together, or alive, they were still seven. The narrator was giving the young girl a hard time because he wanted her to remember and understand that just because she and her siblings are separated does not make them any less siblings.
In the poem "We are Seven", the narrator is asking a girl about her siblings. The girl says that there are seven of them. First Wordsworth describes the girl as a cottage girl. She is 8 years old, and her thick hair was clustered around her head. The description of a girl although seems like the girl is poor and not taken care of well, but the narrator describes her as a beautiful little girl with fair eyes. The narrator asks her about her siblings and asks, where they all were. The little girl replies that two were at Conway dwells and two were gone to sea. Then she said two were laying in the church yard under the church tree, her brother and a sister. And she also says that she lives in a church yard cottage with her mother. The narrator of the poem tries to persuade the little girl that her two dead siblings cannot be counted among them because they are no longer alive. But still, the little girl insists that these two be included. She says "Their graves are green, they may be seen" and then says "Twelve steps or more from my mother's door" (37-40). The girl tries to say that they are very close from the place she lived. She does not want to believe that they are gone forever. She has a belief that even though they are dead, they are still around her. In this poem, the girl is not denying to believe that her two siblings are dead, she is trying to tell the narrator that even though they are dead, she would still count them as her siblings. Because the girl says that their graves are green, and later in the poem explains how she lost two of her siblings. The narrator says, 'But they are dead- those two are dead! Their spirits are in heaven!' 'Twas throwing words away, for still The little maid would have her will And said, 'Nay, we are seven!' (65-69). The narrator has beliefs that the two deceased children are gone. However, the little girl believes that they still exist around her, maybe not in a physical presence, but she still feels that she can sense them.
Wordsworth’s prioritization of nature is closely associated with his childhood experience. In particular, the author believed that the utmost perception of nature was possible only during childhood, when our experience was not affected by rationality that is typical of adulthood (Rehder 211). Children’s emotions are controlled by pure passion and are not inhibited by reason that distracts individuals from understanding their actual nature of feelings. In this respect, the poem Alice Fell: or Poverty focuses on the transparent meaning of natural laws that guide human actions. In particular, the poet stresses, “Her very heart, her grief grew strong; and all was for her tattered cloak” (Alice Fell: or Poverty 15). The little girl Alice Fell expresses her pure emotions and impart the cloak with spiritual significance. While analyzing his poem We Are Seven, Wordsworth makes a philosophical reference to its content and focuses on “…moral attachment when early associated with the great and beautiful objects of nature” (xiii). Within the context of moral philosophy, the poem refers to the opposite views of the girl and the speaker on such concepts as counting, death, and time. So, the author introduces an inner battle between adult and child within one person which hampers the transition from the imaginative world to reality.
For the most part, William Wordsworth’s vision of childhood is reflected in his poems “We Are Seven” and “Alice Fell or Poverty”, where he describes his childhood experiences. From the two poems, it is evident that these childhood experiences continue to influence him throughout his adult life.
Wordsworth, William. “We Are Seven”. The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth. Ed. William Wordsworth. UK: Edward Moxon. 1827. 19-22. Print.
Kumar, Sarkar Sunil. A Companion to William Wordsworth. US: Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 2003. Print.
Rehder, Robert. Wordsworth and the Beginnings of Modern Poetry. US: Taylor & Francis. 1981. Print.